There is no generation of mothers who can claim they did everything right. As individuals, all mothers make mistakes. In addition to this, there are also mistakes that are common to each generation. These mistakes are born from social pressures, changing views on a variety of subjects and the current economic and political climate.
Millennial moms are not immune to any of this. If you are a Millennial mom and have ever shook your head in judgment at your own mother or other mothers from generations past, here is some bad news: Someday, your children are likely to shake their heads at some of the decisions you have made. Here are four mistakes Millennial moms make unconsciously:
1. They provide too much structure and supervision.
Yes, children need a safe framework in which to live and play. They also need rules so that they have firm guidelines about safety and moral issues. Children also need adult supervision that is age appropriate and that matches the situation that they are in.
Unfortunately, many Millennial moms take this too far. Every interaction with a friend or potential friend is planned in advance and supervised from beginning to end. Even playground activities are monitored and directed.
What's wrong with this? Free play encourages children to use their imaginations and develop creativity. Children who are largely left to their own devices when playing also learn to solve their own conflicts, and they come up with creative solutions to problems they encounter.
Directed play is OK sometimes. It helps kids to learn the rules of certain games and how to play safely. However, directed play should not be used as a way for parents to control every minute of the experience.
2. They try to fix everything.
If you have done any of the following things, you may have an unhealthy need to fix everything for your child:
- Called a teacher to argue for a higher grade on your child's behalf
- Contacted another parent to resolve a simple disagreement between your children
- Delivered a forgotten item to school more than once in a semester
- Called your child off school when he or she failed to complete an assignment
- Completed an assignment for your child
There is nothing wrong with advocating for your child if he or she has truly been treated unfairly. There is also nothing wrong with intervening when bullying is a problem.
Unfortunately, Millennials often find it difficult to discern between bullying and simple dislike or disagreement. The same thing applies to rescuing kids from their mistakes, like forgetting to take something to school.
Helping out once or twice is fine, as long as the request is respectful and gratitude is shown. That's a great way to model helping out people we love when they need it. On the other hand, coming to the rescue every single time is enabling.
Kids who are not allowed to fail or be disappointed will enter adulthood lacking the resiliency they need. Some of the best words you can say to your child are, “That sounds like a tough problem, but I'm sure you'll either find a solution or learn a good lesson."
3. They parent with committees.
One of the great things about digital technologies and social media is our ability to connect and communicate with others. This is great when we need helpful advice on a variety of topics, or when we need to learn about other people's experiences. One of the worst things about social media is it can create an unhealthy need to seek approval of our parenting decisions.
Parenting by committee rarely works. In fact, parents who seek too much advice and feedback don't become better parents. They often just become more controlling parents because not only do they have to approve of the decisions they make, but they also have given brain space to the thoughts and opinions of others.
There is nothing wrong with practical advice and learning from the experiences of others. However, seeking approval is not such a healthy thing.
4. They live in fear.
If you haven't paid much attention to the trending topics section of your Facebook News Feed, spend the next few days doing so. If you aren't familiar, it's at the top right portion of your News Feed. Chances are, you'll see a lot of trending stories involving children who have gone missing or otherwise been the victims of disturbing tragedies.
It doesn't stop there. The news is full of stories and warnings about various dangers that children face. Some of this exposure is a good thing. Education helps us keep our children safe, and relatively new developments such as the "Amber Alert" have resulted in many abducted children being safely returned.
The problem is that all of this can skew our perceptions. Millennial moms often see dangers around every corner, and who can blame them? What gets missed is that vast majority of kids safely make it to adulthood without having any of these horrible and tragic things happening to them. It is great to be aware, but we should also keep everything in perspective.